Poems and Essays

by Joseph Howe



[In the Jardin Des Plantes.]


Wild native of the western woods,
    I grieve to see thee here,
Far from the hills, and groves, and floods,
    To both of us so dear. [Page 149]

What evil stroke of bondage gave
    That gaunt but agile frame?
Curse on the mercenary slave,
    That sold thee to this shame.

Wast thou in full career o’erthrown,
    Wounded, but not to die,
Or, lured by notes adroitly blown,*
    Didst read the sylvan lie?

Or wast thou caught in tender years,
    And brought from o’er the sea,
To grow, in agony and tears,
    The idler’s sport to be?

Poor captive!—would that we had met
    Upon our native hills;
But here—to see thee thus beset,
    My soul with sorrow fills.

The tiger roars within his cage,
    The lion shakes his mane,
And tries the bars with baffled rage,
    Then sinks to sleep again.

In far off scenes, I never scann’d,
    These monsters pant to roam,
But thou art from my own fair land,
    And speak to me of home. [Page 150]

We’ve roamed beneath the same tall trees,
    Plunged in the same bright steams,
Both hear the murmur’d tones of these,
    And see them in our dreams.

Thy thoughts, like mine, are far away,
    By western lake and grove,
Where, free as air, we loved to stray,
    Where now our kindred rove.

I go once more those scenes to tread,
    But, thou a prisoner here,
Must heave the sigh and droop the head,
    And feel the captive’s fear.

Be mocked by idlers every hour,
    That dare not, in the wild,
Unarmed, attempt to show their power,
    Or check the forest’s child.

Farewell—poor Moose—I would my hand
    Could set the captive free—
But often in our own dear land,
    My thoughts shall turn to thee.

1838. [Page 151]

* A Common mode of luring the moose is to imitate the call of his mate by blowing through a trumpet made of birch bark. [back]